A little warmup for tonight's Suns Vs. Nuggets matchup:
Gani Lawal has been on assignment from the Phoenix Suns to the Iowa Energy since the D-League season began and, while he's never looked particularly impressive in my eyes during his Development League stint, he may have had the worst game any NBA-assigned player has ever had in Friday night's game against the Tulsa 66ers.
Dragic Not Blaming Coach Gentry but Certainly Sounds Frustrated: Paul Coro
"I didn't find the rhythm, didn't lead the team, and I was on the bench," Dragic said of Wednesday's game. "That was a coaching decision. It was the right decision, because I didn't lead the team. I just to have to focus on my game and try to do my stuff.
Suns Could Move Warrick to Starting Lineup Vs. Nuggets: Paul Coro
The case to supplant Turkoglu has been bolstered by the play of his backup, Warrick, who logged starter's minutes (36 and 37) in the past two games and recorded his first consecutive 20-point outings since March 2008. Warrick scored 21 points in a recent win against the Denver Nuggets, who the Suns play Sunday.
Having apparently tired of their mediocrity, the Heat held a lengthy players-only meeting following a disheartening 106-98 loss to the Dallas Mavericks. The Heat are now 9-8, far below their expectations for a season that began with LeBron James(notes), Dwyane Wade(notes) and Chris Bosh(notes) vowing to chase history.
Bedge Media Row Report: Blazersesdge.com
It was a pathetic non-effort, 12 minutes of occasional excitement followed by 36 excruciating minutes of some of the worst basketball this team has played at home over the last three seasons. A sluggish 15 point second quarter, followed by a stalled 17 point third quarter, followed by a hopeless 13 point fourth quarter.
Making Another Point The Case to Sit Chauncey Billups: Denverstiffs.com
As much as it pains me to write this, the time may be at hand to bench Chauncey Billups. Or at the very least drastically cut his minutes. Over the course of this season, Chauncey's shooting percentage is 34.4%, including a very bad 31.6% at the three point arc and a paltry 4.7 assists a game.
...A few months later, he was upsetting the new-New Jersey coaching staff during the summer leagues by gunning during exhibition play. And in the month of November, repeated tardy violations earned Williams a two game suspension. Further violations, following the suspension, upset Nets coach Avery Johnson so much that he sent the second-year forward to the D-League as punishment.
More photos » Ross D. Franklin - AP
19 days ago: Phoenix Suns' Hakim Warrick (21) grabs a rebound from Denver Nuggets' Carmelo Anthony, back, as Nuggets' Ty Lawson (3), Arron Afflalo (6) and Gary Forbes (0) and Suns' Jared Dudley (3), Hedo Turkoglu (19), of Turkey, and Josh Childress, right, all look on during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game Monday, Nov. 15, 2010, in Phoenix. The Suns defeated the Nuggets 100-94. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
As the season turns, so do the days of our lives.
When will last year's Jared Dudley show up? When will "all the new guys" who aren't so new anymore start to play cohesively? When will Alvin Gentry use his crystal ball and see the perfect rotation that so many of us see already (nevermind that each of us sees a different perfect rotation)?
We don't know the answer to those questions, and won't find them all out in the next episode of the Suns season tonight against Denver. In fact, we may come out of tonight's game with even more new questions than answers.
Luckily, Denver has been one of those teams with a mental block against playing the Suns. One way or another, the Suns have come out with the long end of the stick in most cases (including the last 4 in a row).
The "start Hakim Warrick" chant strikes me as a particularly funny one. The only difference between Warrick starting and coming off the bench in the past few games is the opening tip. A few minutes in the first quarter. Yet, if you look at it a little closer, you'll see that's the best quarter on most nights.
Warrick has been getting starters minutes and will continue to do so. If he starts tonight, go ahead and rejoice. Just don't expect all the stars to align as a result. This team is still a work in progress.
Gentry is finding out that he's got one guy who feels comfortable at the 4 spot (Warrick), though he's not particularly interested in defending that spot or rebounding other teams' misses against bigger players. If Hedo Turkoglu can outrebound you, there's a problem.
Gentry is also finding out that he's got one guy in the top 10 player who has resigned himself to playing the 5 spot as well as he can (Frye). Again, not a good rebounder. But he plays spirited defense and is becoming more vocal. We have a winner!
Gentry already knows he has 2 pretty good PGs as well (Nash and Dragic), and a streaky but too good to bench SG. So that's 5 guys he can put a stamp on their minutes every night because they fill a particular need.
What doesn't he know then? Plenty. Like among Hill, Dudley, Childress and Turkoglu, who gets the most and fewest remaining minutes? All well-paid and individually productive in different ways. All natural 2/3 players, yet forced to cover a little at the 4 and 5 as well. Sure you could include Siler, Clark and Barron in that rotation but then there's even fewer available minutes for the other more-talented players.
Gentry can't afford to play rosterbation. He has to play the guys he's got, and find a way to represent for 48 minutes a night. So let's give him a break in that area and just watch and see what unfolds. And don't expect any answers to important questions until later in the season.
But there IS one area that should be better. Defense. How can you be 3 months (training camp, preseason and 17 games into the regular season) and still be making stupid mistakes ALL THE TIME on defense?!?!?
49% opponent shooting percentage. 110 points per game. 60+ points in the paint (bolstered by second-chance points on record-setting opponent offensive rebound percentage).
Open jump shots. Open drives to the lane. Little post-up resistance.
I call them the McSuns. Whatever the other team wants, our team delivers at a fast-food pace.
We need to stop blaming it on the newness of 3 of the rotation players, and start holding them all accountable to be smarter. Geez, this is ridiculous.
Man up, Suns! Talk to each other on defense, and hold each other accountable!
Tonight's opponent: Denver Nuggets
Denver is 9-6 overall, and has won 3 straight and 4 of 5 overall since their meltdown against the Suns (over NY, GS and Chicago at home; GS on the road).
Billups has been nursing a sore wrist and may miss the game, but Chris "Birdman" Andersen is back which is bad news for the Suns. Yet another tall guy to pair with Nene to help the Nuggets dominate the boards.
Of course, the more I think about it... maybe this way Shelden Williams and Melvin Ely won't get any minutes which pretty much cancels out any gains Andersen provides. Those guys killed the Suns too.
Phoenix Suns could switch to Hakim Warrick at starting power forward, If the Suns were ever going to make a move to start Hakim Warrick at power forward instead of Hedo Turkoglu, it might be Sunday at Denver.
Definition of "up and down". Last 2 games: 2 points/1 rebound, 23 points/6 rebounds